Monday, 27 September 2010

the capture of spectularity

three days spent on grimsey afforded not only the crossing of the artic circle and a futile hunt of some puffins that didn't leave but also an exchange of the various books one transports in a backpack on iceland. we shared the little hostel with a german woman who packs even more excessively than i do: but her five books in iceland provided some good insights into hiking routes and various other bits.

the book that really got me was one with a chapter titled 'nature equals kitsch plus x', by wolfgang mueller. what a marvellous equation. it provided and still does provide plenty to mentally chew over. again and again when you just stare around you and there is just no way of doing anything else other than staring.

m, the woman with the five travel books sat downstairs in the kitchen and each morning declared: 'wow - i can't get over this change in the photo wallpaper over there' - pointing to the icelandic mainland in some 50 kms distance in ever changing light, cloud and snow formations. 'how come they put a new one up every couple of hours?'

the evening before we walked to the northern tip and while i happily snapped away with the camera, every click was futile. it froze in time and single viewpoint all that what could not be frozen.

it seemed ridiculous to try and capture in image something that once capture would be pure kitsch. photography and painting/drawing as completely futile. and then i read about above's equation. the equation, so mueller, renders visual arts in iceland virtually impossible, and land art doesn't even need a consideration to start with.

what a fabulous starting point of my little landart, nature, landscapism module: failure. utter failure to deal with where you're at and what you see. there are possibly some caveats to this:
- what is there to turn to if visual representation is utterly meaningless?
- the romantics tried to romanticise -- make abstract and thus more beautiful -- the landscape. what if it cannot be made any more beautiful?
- sightseeing spectacularity makes you numb and blind; but, relatedly: how do you ordinarily live with such spectacularity?

thus, while taking futile photos, trying to sketch some of the many horses, catalogueing the various colour changes in boiling mudpots, ignoring the clouds above as any sketch would be only considered not real enough and contemplating the folds that thick lave flow makes, i am working my way through the above.

maybe next: some colour schemes, of mudpots and arctic forests (i.e. blueberries, cranberries and crow berries) in autumn beauty. but first a bit more failure. fresh from grimsey:


SamArtDog said...

Reading your uber-entertaining blog while traveling makes almost anywhere seem almost mundane. Except Maine is like Iceland without the volcanos.

Caroline Peña Bray said...

AMAZING images, Gesa! I don't think they're futile at all, perhaps they need some work. But as an artist it's what you bring to an image that matters, not what the photo gives you. We can't recreate nature in film or on canvas, so why try? We can create a vision of nature which draws the viewer's attention to something they might not otherwsise have spotted had they been left in a field or on a mountain all alone.

Don't give up...there's so uch more you can give us. I can see it, on the horizon...use your vision and your intellect. Show us what you saw that day, in nature, that which cannot be frozen but which can be hinted at through artistic endeavour. Don't just expect a photo to give it to you on a plate...